I bought Never Too Late to Go Vegan: The Over-50 Guide to Adopting and Thriving on a Plant-Based Diet because hey, I've converted to a (mostly) plant based diet over 50, and one of my favorite experts on the health benefits, Dr. Neal Barnard had blurbed it. His books 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health and The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook: 125 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Jump-Start Weight Loss and Help You Feel Great were my go-to resources when I switched to a (mostly) plant-based diet to improve my health, so I was very interested in this book about going plant-based over 50.
Mild warning: if you are interested in going plant-based for health reasons and think the whole "vegan thing" is a bridge too far, this book may or may not be your cup of tea, and may put you off - which would be a shame, because there's a lot of good stuff here. The authors are true-blue, dyed in the not-wool-plant-based-fiber-because-wool=cruelty vegans. Even I, a firm believer in the benefits to my health, had to stifle a few eye-rolls about wool and silk and such. If you're interested in the health benefits, stick with Dr. Barnard's books above, and the The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter's 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds books. They are more positive and health-oriented, and less what people find annoying about vegans. That said, I didn't disagree with too much of what the true blue vegans said about factory farms and our food supply.
Everyone should know where their food comes from, and the big agriculture factory farms that produce most of our meat and dairy are absolutely horrific. The Humane Society of the United States has been doing a lot on this issue. And have you heard of the rise in what are called "ag-gag" laws? The factory farms are fighting back, because they know if people saw what went on there, there would be an outcry of protest even from the most dedicated carnivores. Basically, any "disparagement" of the factory farm industry can get you sued in many states (Florida included). Photos and video of the systems that produce the meat and eggs and dairy you are feeding to your children are banned in many facilities. Don't be nosy! You have no right to know how that meat got there; it's in plastic wrap in the supermarket so shut up and buy it. It's actually against the law for outside visitors and journalists to visit and take pictures to tell you how it happens. I'm totally with the animal rights activists on this issue - we have a right to know how the food that gets to our table gets there, and that includes how the animals are "processed." (Spoiler alert: Once you know, you may develop a sudden urge to learn how to make creative meals without meat.)
But I did have a problem with the way this book dismissed sourcing animal products from known, small, local farms. Keeping backyard chickens for eggs is not on the same plane, or even in the same solar system, as the Chicken Factory, and I didn't like how the locavores and backyard chicken movement were just blown off without any discussion - it's just all wrong, because animals!
There are lots of reasons to avoid buying bargain brand honey, for example, like how a lot of it isn't actually honey, but personally I have NO problem with getting honey from a local beekeeper at the farmer's market. That's where I am on the plant-based scale; I am grossed out by the practices of the big agriculture companies that produce most of what you find in the meat and frozen foods sections of the supermarket, but I respect people who raise animals on a small, personal scale and treat them with care. As a knitter active in the online knitting world for over a decade, I know people who raise sheep, alpacas, etc., and I know how they love and respect those animals. They aren't mass-processing animals in a factory, and they work very hard to care for them.
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals is one of my favorite books on the subject of our disconnection from our food.
Overall, I actually did like this book. It addresses a lot of issues of the over-50, family traditions, reactions from people who have known you forever, and more specific issues like being a caregiver to elderly parents, or being a vegan in a medical setting, and tips for navigating those challenges. But overall, it confirmed for me that while I may be vegan-adjacent I'm not really a vegan, and I'm not really interested in becoming vegan. I eat a nearly all plant based diet for health reasons, and I love it and it's not a big deal, because I'm flexible.
I was very interested in the "how to make this work when dealing with non-vegans" sections, and yeah, that's where being vegan becomes an issue. They really didn't offer an answer I found practical - "Call your host/hostess and tell them about your dietary preferences, and offer to bring a dish" to a dinner party - they'll "respect you, and you can share a vegan dish!" And this is why vegans are seen by the world at large as pains in the ass. Although the authors suggested smiling, keeping your mouth shut and not lecturing, they also suggested bringing your own food to parties, calling the hosts, pestering the waiters and the chef to make something special for you (I love my boss, but I can imagine how that would go over at a business dinner).
So, that's why I say I'm "mostly vegan." I have two back-to-back business dinners at the end of the month, and neither of them will be at veg-friendly establishments. I'll eat around the edges, pick the most veggie options, but will I make my dietary preferences an issue? No. I may even eat some wild-caught fish if I'm starving, and that may be the only animal product I eat all month.
Oh, and their suggestion for dating? Just order your food, don't make a big deal about saying you're vegan, don't bring it up (except of course, when you grill the waiter about your special order, your date MIGHT just catch a clue, or at least conclude that you are really high maintenance). Because nothing says a new relationship is off to a great start like being coy about something that is a guiding principle of your life. Yeah, get back to me on how that works, hon.
So no, this book didn't convert me to full-fledged vegan. Half the book is recipes, and most sound quite appealing, because vegan food really is quite good. I enjoyed this book because it made me really think about where I am on the food chain, and whether I am comfortable in my (mostly) plant based life. Yes, I am.